Bonifay FFA Chapter, 1990-94
Throughout her days in FFA, Becky Raulerson had many involvements. She participated in career development events like land judging, forestry, and parliamentary procedure, while showing steer and hog projects.
Becky was also Florida's first state winner of the Creed Speaking contest, even before it became a contest at the national level.
During her high school days and after graduation, Becky also served as the District 1 Secretary, District 1 President, and a state FFA officer for Florida.
Now, Becky serves as one of our lecturers in agricultural communication. Students in AEC may have Becky as an instructor in her event planning or agricultural issues classes.
"FFA really developed my confidence and speaking skills, which I need every day as an instructor for my classes," said Becky. "It also taught me work ethic. When an animal depends on you, you really learn how to take care of yourself and something else that relies on you."
Independence FFA Chapter, 1967-71
During his high school days, Ed Osborne showed sheep and cattle as part of his supervised agricultural experiences. He also participated in the livestock judging career development event and served as a chapter officer. He later was elected to serve as the state vice president for Virginia FFA.
Because of FFA, Ed said he had new experiences like flying in an airplane and traveling out of state for the first time. The summer after graduating high school, he flew to Colorado State University to attend a weeklong seminar as part of the American Institute of Cooperatives.
“In the tenth grade I decided I wanted to be a high school ag teacher," he said. "I was in FFA, grew up on a farm, and I loved school. It was the natural thing that all came together."
Today, Ed is a professor of agricultural education in AEC and previously served as the department chair. Before joining the team at the University of Florida, he was a high school agriculture teacher and later faculty at the University of Illinois.
Washburn FFA, 1988-92
As a high school student in rural Maine, Hannah Carter did not have a formal agricultural education program through her school, but that did not stop her from being part of the Washburn FFA chapter.
"We competed in dairy judging, beef cattle judging and horse judging," she said. "As one of the eight chapters in the state at that time, we were often looked at as the underdogs. My adviser though, she helped us succeed at all of it."
Hannah also credits FFA with giving her opportunities to travel out of the state.
"I traveled to National FFA Convention for the first time, which was in Kansas City," she said. "FFA gave the kids from rural Maine opportunities to travel nationally."
At the encouragement of her adviser, Hannah ran for state FFA office in Maine, and was elected as vice president - the first female state officer for Maine FFA.
"I had no idea that there were no women before me," Hannah said. "It was the work of my adviser that really helped open the door there for me."
Today, Hannah is an associate professor of leadership development in AEC, director of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, and interim director of the UF/IFAS Center for Leadership.
"In addition to growing up as a farm kid - I grew up as a farmer's daughter - I feel like FFA gave me credibility in production agriculture," she said. "Well, that, and an immediate network. People understand the common experiences we had in FFA."
Hannah has been working to build leadership capacity in Florida agriculture, but will soon be returning to her home state of Maine to take on a new role: Dean for Cooperative Extension for the University of Maine.
Gaither FFA Chapter, 1985-87
Grady Roberts ended up as an agriculture student and FFA member (and future agricultural educator) completely by accident. Before moving to Florida, Grady's family lived in Germany. Just before moving back to the states, his brother broke his leg snow skiing. Upon return to school, this time in the Sunshine State, Grady's brother was taken out of his physical education elective class and placed into an agriculture course instead. Thinking it looked fun and interesting, it wasn't long before Grady enrolled in his own high school agriculture class.
As an FFA member, Grady took part in supervised agricultural experiences like showing a pig at the state fair and starting a plant nursery with one of his friends.
"As a high school student, working in education was not on my radar... at all." he said. "When I came to UF as a freshman, I came as an agricultural engineering major. When I reached that typical point as a sophomore or junior and looking at my career, I looked at the jobs my ag teachers we're doing. That looked like a really cool job."
Grady went on to become an agriculture teacher. In fact, he even served as one of the FFA advisers (and CDE coach) for Mrs. Debra Barry (pictured next). Today, he is a professor of agricultural education in AEC.
Durant FFA Chapter, 1993-99
While Deb Barry was an FFA member through middle school and high school, she participated in the poultry judging and citrus judging career development events.
She also placed fifth in the state in the vegetable judging career development event, where Dr. Grady Roberts was her adviser and CDE coach.
For her supervised agricultural experience, Deb had poultry production, swine production and plant production projects.
Throughout high school, Deb was involved in many different organizations, so she did not decide to serve in a leadership role for her chapter until her senior year.
When she got to the University of Florida, Deb got involved in Collegiate FFA, serving as the chapter's president in 2002!
Today, Deb is a lecturer of agricultural education in our department, based in Plant City, Florida.
"FFA was definitely the catalyst that inspired me to, first of all, come to UF," she said. "And then, it helped me find my passion in agricultural education. I definitely found my love for ag through FFA."
Lincolnwood FFA Chapter, 1994-98
As an FFA member, Andrew served his chapter as treasurer for two years, while also competing in various career development events such as poultry judging, soil evaluation, parliamentary procedure, dairy products evaluation and livestock evaluation.
He also had a beef cattle entrepreneurship project for his supervised agricultural experience.
Today, Andrew is an associate professor of agricultural education.
"I use my experiences in FFA to reflect back on what it was like as a student, and to help the students I work with bridge the gap between being an FFA member to being an FFA adviser," Andrew said.
Hartsburg-Emden FFA, 1999-2003
As an FFA member, Natalie Coers participated in the agricultural issues and food science career development events at the national level. She also took part in the parliamentary procedure and public speaking events.
In her home state of Illinois, Natalie was part of the state FFA band for two years. She later took her flute to the national stage as part of the national FFA band.
Natalie recently joined our faculty as a lecturer of agricultural leadership development.
"I'm pretty sure I attended every possible leadership conference as a member," she said. "Experiences with leadership in FFA were why I chose to pursue a career in leadership development."
Pittsfield FFA Chapter, 1988-92
As an FFA member during high school, Brian Myers showed cattle and immersed himself in his supervised agricultural experiences. He also enjoyed attending and participating in the Illinois state FFA convention.
"FFA is where I learned how to lead - myself and groups - to accomplish something," Brian said. "It taught me what goal setting is and how to learn from the times that 'don't go just as planned.'"
Today, Brian uses the leadership skills he learned as the chair of the department of agricultural education and communication.
"FFA helped me understand the impact that an adviser can have on students and the community," he said.
UF/IFAS Department of Agricultural Education and Communication